Week 25,Whitehorse and Further

I flew up to Whitehorse on June 8th to visit Olivia and had a great few days in the north. I was a little shocked at first because they were experiencing a 50 year record for heat on the 8th and 9th , the 10th was decent and by the 11th it was a normal ,cool ,northern spring day ! But June 9th was 29 C and I had a hotel room that didn’t have any A/C. I survived. The lack of darkness was another thing I had forgotten about and. It was only dark from about 2 am to 4 am.It looks like high noon at 8 pm!

I had a great time though hanging out with Olivia and touring the north with her. We walked and talked around town on Thursday after I arrived and she showed me the city. The mighty Yukon River runs through Whitehorse and I was impressed. We decided to go for dinner around 6 and went to Klondike Rib and Salmon which is one of the best places I have eaten in quite awhile. It’s been on the Food Networks show “You Gotta Eat here” and deserves to be.

 

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Me and Olivia at Mile’s Canyon

 

On Friday Olivia took me on a road trip to Skagway Alaska. It’s only a 2-hour drive and in the summer there is no shortage of daylight, so there’s no need to rush the drive. One thing that immediately struck me as unusual is that we would be driving south to get to Skagway! I just assume Alaska is north. The drive to Skagway was beautiful. We were on the Klondike Highway and there were so many lakes and rivers and mountains. But first we stopped 70 km from Whitehorse at a community called Carcross which is home to the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, with a population of about 250.They have a terrific small but unique boardwalk commercial area set up for the summer tourist season with food and many crafts for sale.

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Pole at Carcross

After this , we were Alaska bound with a few stops for some great pictures.

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Tagish Lake

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Tutshi Lake, a larger image to appreciate the mountains

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I could have taken a picture every kilometer of the drive , it was so awesome

Our last stop before Skagway was Dyea a former town with just a few small homesteads left. It’s at the convergence of the Taiya River and Taiya Inlet and it is the south trail-head for the Chilkoot Pass. Dyea was abandoned for the offering of deeper port waters at Skagway a hundred years ago. The Chilkoot Pass and Dyea are U.S. National Historic Landmarks. When Lori and I were planning our West Coast Trail hike that we completed in July 2016 we talked about doing the Chilkoot Trail. Now that I have been up in this country, seen how beautiful it is, I am going to revive the conversation.

The links for the Chilkoot Trail and the Chilkoot Pass are different if you’re checking them out.

 

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The south trail-head at Dyea

 

It was now on to Skagway, a mere 10 miles away. Skagway was a surprise for me to see and totally captivating. The main street and the side streets off main have all been restored and maintained to their original appearance of 130 years ago. The population is only 1,060 but it doubles in the summer to handle upwards of 900,000 visitors, most of who arrive on the cruise ships. During the Klondike Gold Rush the town was virtually lawless and was described at that time by a North West Mounted Policeman as “hell on earth”. People came from all over America and Canada, up the pacific coast to Skagway before heading for the Yukon gold via the Chilkoot Trail. I have fallen for Skagway and I need to get back there. From Skagway you can catch a ferry to Juneau and Haines if you wanted. Skagway had more than enough to keep me busy for awhile taking pictures and snooping around before we settled down to the reason we had come to Skagway;the promise of a big, fresh ,crab dinner

 

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State Street , Skagway

 

We had a fantastic 1lb crab dinner each with ice tea to drink and hot melted butter for the crab meat! I don’t even remember the name of the restaurant or I would cite it here because the staff were so friendly, and service was good. I could have eaten another. I was stuffed though. After dinner, we hit the streets again and Olivia treated me to a t-shirt!  We bought some candy for the drive back to Whitehorse and we headed home but we had to take 4 tries to get out of town, as I was filming a snap chat and had to get it perfect,while even just correct. Olivia has more patience than I remember her having.Ha

Another thing to mention is the weather. It was 29 when we left Whitehorse and 9 when we got to Skagway and 27 again when we got back to Whitehorse ,at 9 pm.

 

Saturday, we stayed around Whitehorse and one of the things we did was go to the Pride Parade. That was my first Pride parade and although not as big as Calgary’s it was bigger than I expected. Also, you can see by the picture that this has to be the coolest Pride sticker ever.

 

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Sunday, we drove a couple of hours up to Haines Junction and into Kluane National Park. At Haines Junction, you can choose to continue on the Alaska Highway towards Anchorage or you can carry on through Kluane and to Haines Alaska. Kluane was beautiful, windy and cold. All at the same time. We saw a couple of bears in the park and got some good photos of the one guy who was not interested in us at all. He just tried his best to ignore us and carry on his way.

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Mr. Black Bear above and Kathleen Lake,Kluane National Park

 

 

 

On our way home, we stopped at Haines Junction at their famous little bakery and we both had a drink and I added a cinnamon bun before we made the trek back to Whitehorse. I was leaving for Calgary the next day and the thought came to mind as to why so many people want to drive the Alaska Highway each summer. It’s been added to my list of things to accomplish. I had a great time and great time hanging out with Olivia.

 

Whitehorse is a pretty nice little city and I have always loved the north. I’ll be back.

 

Finished the Willie Nelson autobiography this week and I’m a little disappointed in it.Compared to the Gregg Allman autobiography and Stephen King memoirs I’ve recently read, I felt like Willie glossed over a lot of things that did or might have happened that I would have been interested in. It was very clean. Not one story from the bus! I felt like he wrote it and was far too careful not to offend an ex wife or a friend and it seemed like he possibly was hiding things from his adult children.That being said,it was Willie Nelson and it was still an interesting story.

 

The song this week is from Bonnie Raitt who Lori and I saw on Friday the 16th. 

She is as good today as she was 40 years ago! This is her singing one of my favorite songs  written by John Prine, another favorite.

 

 

 

The quote this week is from Howard Zinn.

“The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll drop back next week………….

 

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Week 23 & Mental Health

I could hear it in her voice when she said hello. How are you? I was returning my daughters call from 30 minutes earlier. Olivia is an addictions counselor and she moved up north at the beginning of January to do this. One of the young men she has been working with for quite awhile had committed suicide the day before. She was hurt and she was sad. One of the deals about being a parent is that when your kid hurts, you hurt. I never asked his name so I know I’ll sound clinical when I call him “her client”. Her client was a 23-year-old male addict who struggled with his addictions. We talked about him for awhile and the progress he was seemingly making but that progress can disappear quickly with an incident or set back. I have always been proud of Olivia for choosing Social work  and I commend her and all Social Workers for what they do and what they contribute to  our society. I knew when she became a Social Worker that this day would happen and unfortunately it will happen again. I know my daughter well and if we have Social Workers then I am very glad she is one of them. She’s awesome at her job and we need people in this line of work who care about people, society and their belief that they can and will make a change. She’s been doing this since she was in Junior High when she and some friends put on a fundraiser at school to help the victims of the disastrous tsunami of 2004.In a few years, in between grade 11 and 12 her and her friend Emily would spend their summer in Mozambique, working in an orphanage for children who had AIDS or had lost their parents to AIDS. I was hurting for my daughter but at the same time I knew there was no one better suited for this work than she is. I’m flying up to see her this Thursday for the weekend and I know we’ll discuss this more.

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The unfortunate thing is she will see this again. I have spent 25 years in the rooms of recovery and I have seen too many suicides. One is too many. I’ve seen more than that. Most of us, in recovery or not in recovery, have been touched sometime in our life, by suicide. It’s a human condition. I don’t judge anyone who has committed suicide and contrary to some others I don’t believe it’s a selfish act. My pal, Tim M committed suicide on an Easter Sunday at his home. Tim and I came into the rooms together about 1 week apart.  We even had the same sponsor. I had no idea Tim was even close to this. There were no signs, no cry for help, it was his final act. It happened a year and a half after we first met. So often the people left behind ask why and what could I have done? Nothing could be done. The signs are often camouflaged by an outward appearance that is a lie. I feel for these people who do not see an alternative. Imagine the desperation and hopelessness someone feels when suicide, to them, is their best option. I don’t believe it’s a selfish act nor do I believe there is a lot of thought into the ones left behind. It’s an act of insanity and sadly it’s temporary insanity. I have heard the phrase so many times, “a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. I hold hope that the person contemplating suicide will have a moment of clarity and get to an emergency room where a temporary commitment can be enforced and hopefully there can begin something new and different that offers them hope.

 

This video of a famous Ali speech is a must watch and at only 3:21,why not? This is not about boxing or about sports. This is about something far higher than that.It’s so good!

 

The song this week is from Coldplay

 

The quote this week is :

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.
Rumi

Week 22 and There is a Solution

On Saturday it occurred to me that most people think I showed up to A.A., quit drinking, worked the 12 Steps and here I am 24 years later. But that’s not how it happened and I was reminded of that when I saw Conrad D. at the Cochrane Roundup this past Saturday. I always love to see Conrad and have the opportunity to catch up with him. Conrad was the greatest influence on me to get into the 12 Steps of recovery.

I had quit drinking January 7th 1993 and haven’t had a drink since. However I never went to a 12 Step meeting for my recovery. Why would I? I had quit drinking hadn’t I? As the days and weeks passed my life started to suck. Months passed and it got worse. My anxiety was through the roof. My temper was out of control. My patience was nil. I was angry at the world, 24/7.I had quit drinking so didn’t the world owe me something? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.No wonder I was angry.

I would run into Conrad on the streets of downtown Calgary a couple of times a week during this stage of my sobriety. He was in the drilling industry and so was I.I looked up to Conrad. He was genuine, funny, and he was successful and had been sober quite a number of years at this time. I wanted to be a lot more like Conrad. When I ran into him on the streets I would have an opportunity to complain to him about how horrible my life had become since I quit drinking. He would listen to me for a few minutes, sometimes he would mention A.A. and always he would walk away when I still had more to say. I was slowly becoming delusional and paranoid. I was messed up in my head. In September of 1993 I ran into Conrad as usual but as I was approaching him he put his hand up in that halt, or stop sign motion. So I stopped and before I could say anything Conrad said the words that I will never forget. “You may have not had a drink in a few months but you’re a bigger ass_________   than you were when you were drinking”. I was stunned. I was frozen in place and time seemed to have stopped. I think I stood there for about 30 seconds before I shook myself only to see Conrad had already walked ¼ of a block away. I was very hurt by those words.

I was so hurt that I went to an A.A. meeting that night. I called central office and there was a meeting that night at St. Michael’s Church on Bow Trail and 45st.I went to that meeting with the intent to join A.A. and change my life. There had to be more to life than the existence I was living. In my eyes Conrad was living proof that those 12 Steps worked. I showed up to The Bow Trail Group that Wednesday night and for the first time in longer than I can remember I had some Faith. Faith that A.A. worked.When they asked if there were any newcomers I stuck my hand up and when they asked if I wanted a newcomer’s package ,I said yes. I bought a Big Book that night and although the first man I asked to be my sponsor said no, the second one I asked said that he would. Something felt different that night and that feeling was hope. For so long my life had been hopeless but on this Wednesday night I had some hope that maybe I could make a life worth living. That I could find happiness and contentment.

Prior to that meeting I had become what is known as a dry drunk. Unbeknownst to me I had untreated alcoholism. Alcohol was only a symptom of my alcoholism. Alcohol was my solution to life and without it I had to find something different as a solution to my problems. I have since found my solution and it is far more than I had ever dreamed of.In A.A. I didn’t learn how to stop drinking. I learned how to live peacefully.

I have this, thanks to my good friend, Conrad D., who cared for me enough to tell me the truth, at the expense of, and despite my feelings. I have no idea where I would have ended up had I not gone through those doors of St Mike’s that night. It scares me to think about it.

I hope that each and everyone one of you has someone in your life that will help you find your truth when you’re too blinded at the moment, to see it yourself.

 

Was there any doubt that the song this week would be from Gregg Allman? If you know me then you saw this one coming. I was hurt when I got the news Saturday that Gregg Allman had passed on. Some of you might recall that Lori and I flew to Vegas last October to see him. He was on the venue with ZZ Top but he had to withdraw due to illness. Recently I did a search to see where he was going to play in 2017 only to find out he had cancelled all his gigs to build up his strength. He was able to keep me guessing and hoping to the end. He died on May 27 from complications due to liver cancer.I spent my teenage years listening to Southern Rock and The Allman Brothers were the pioneers of the genre. I’ve read today that fans have been asked to line the funeral procession route but the family will have a private ceremony. He’ll be buried next to his brother Duane, who was killed in 1971 in a motorcycle accident. This weeks song seems most fitting for the circumstances.

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This is Soulshine , released in 1994.

 

 

The quote this week is from the same man, Gregg Allman

 

I would like to be remembered as a – somebody who could rock your soul or make you cry with a song. And somebody who’s kind, who loved to laugh, and loved his God.

RIP

 

Thanks for checking out the blog and I hope you’ll drop by again next week………………….

Week 21, Long Weekends and Richard Rohr

The sun was shining every day of this past Victoria Day weekend and I can’t remember the last time that happened. We usually prepare for a spring snowfall on this May long weekend but not so this year. Every day was a beautiful,sunny and warm day. I pressure washed the outside of the house, the deck, the patio, the garage and the parking pad and cleaned off a couple shelves in the garage too.  Lori did a lot of work in the garden and yard. I also went through an old trunk of mine that is full of “stuff”. Mostly it’s all knickknacks’ and pictures from the past. These are things that only have sentimental value, which I want my kids to have, later. You know, when I’m gone. Ha-ha.  There’s crayon coloured placemats and tickets from concerts and sporting events that we attended. It’s just a bunch of “stuff”. I got caught up in it though.

Saturday night we met Samir and Kim at Aladdin’s Casbah .We had a fantastic supper and a visit that matched. Aladdin’s is a must if you’re from Calgary. Its south on MacLeod Trail at Avenida and worth the drive. This is not just the best Lebanese food in town this clearly some of the best food I’ve had in Calgary. If you’re not sure what to have I recommend starting with the tabouli and baba ganoush for appetizers and then order the mixed grill for a main course. If you go on Saturday night the belly dancer starts around 830-9 and you definitely want to be there for that! The food, the staff and the restaurant will have you planning your next visit to Aladdin’s .

I have a spot by some framed jerseys that needed some chairs but they had to be the right chairs to fit in with the sports jerseys. I said to Lori that I thought a couple of leather chairs would be the right fit. She got on Facebook ,checked into Calgary buy and Sell and immediately found two, brown distressed leather chairs that fit perfectly and I won’t say the price because it was such a good deal I almost feel guilty.

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This picture of me and the kids is from 1996. I found this while cleaning the garage on the weekend. Pure gold! It looks like we’re at Elbow Falls

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one of the pictures I found cleaning the garage. Emma,Me,Liam and Olivia

 

I’m presently taking a 9 week course from the Center for Action and Contemplation  . The course is “Breathing Underwater” and it’s to enhance the book by Father Richard Rohr titled Breathing Under Water ; Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. It’s been a great course and it’s given me a considerable amount of spiritual goods to reflect on. This is the second time this year I will have read this book. It’s been well worth my time.

I’m also reading Stephen King’s book , On Writing , Wayne Gretzky’s book Stories of the Game and I’m dabbling in a book of poetry my sister Nancy gave me for my birthday 2 weeks ago. It’s a book of poetry all based on Canada’s game, hockey! It’s called Hero of the Play I’ll get the first three finished by the first week of June and I’ll continue to dabble in the poetry book.

Cheers to the Nashville Predators for getting past Anaheim to be the first team in the Stanley Cup Final this year. This is their first ever appearance in a cup final in the 19 years they have been in the NHL. I’m really happy for the city and their fans and hope they do well. They now await the winner of game 7 between Ottawa and Pittsburgh. I would think if Ottawa ended up in the final it would be a nightmare for the NHL since Nashville and Ottawa are both small market teams and I can’t imagine there would be quite the TV interest that you might see in a NY Rangers versus Los Angeles Kings final. So I’m pulling for Ottawa and maybe we’ll see these two small market teams play for the Stanley Cup. Ottawa has won a Stanley Cup before but their last win was in 1927, long before the modern era.

 

The song this week is from the band Deer Tick and is titled Song About a Man

 

 

The quote this week is something I have had stored away in my file and I have no idea where I got it. But I like it.

If you had $86,400 in your account and someone stole $10 from you, would you be upset and throw the remaining amount $86,390 away at the person who took your $10? Of course not! The same way we have 86,400 seconds each day. Don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the remaining 86,390 seconds of your day.

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you next week……………..

 

 

 

Week 20 & I Love To Write

I enjoy writing this blog. If no one dropped by, I would still do it but it’s far more enjoyable and rewarding to write when I know someone is reading it.

My weekly posts have now slowed down to every second week. Slowed is a misnomer.  I’m very busy and right now I’m not able to find the time to write on a weekly basis. I would like to but I am short on time every day.

We’ve been very busy at work this year, I’m very busy with other commitments after work and I am taking a course right now too. And I need an hour a day for the gym, for myself. I am hoping that soon I will be able to get back to once a week postings.

I love writing and could do it full time but I still have to send money to the bank every month for my home. I enjoy writing my blog and I am enjoying writing a couple of stories I am working on. I have always had a love for writing, prose, and poetry. It rivals my appreciation of music.

I quit school when I was 16 but I had already completed, with great marks, Grade 11 English.  I had a passion for English. My Grade 11 English teacher was an overweight and unusual character of a man named Mr. Loob. He wore clean pressed white shirts, short sleeves and a bow tie. Same thing every day. He too had a great appreciation for literature. He was like a cheerleader for books such as the Lord of the Flies and his enthusiasm pushed my love for literature even further. I’ll never forget Mr. Loob and how supportive and encouraging he was for all my work and projects. He was not only an interesting character he was a nice man. He’s one of the few school teachers who impacted my life.

But I left school at 16. I was bored and annoyed with school so I left. At 17 I was working on my first drilling rig, Westburne #17, outside of Grimshaw, Alberta. The rigs were a harsh place for a 17-year-old but I took to them quickly and I’ve been in that industry ever since. Through everything though I never lost my appreciation for literature.

I have taken some writing courses in the last 5 years. They’ve been in person at The Alexandra Writing Center in Calgary and some online course work. I have also taken courses from Athabasca University which is a distance, online University here in the province of Alberta. I’m applying those credits towards and English Degree but it’s likely I won’t pursue the degree again until I retire. I just can’t commit the time right now. I would have to take the time from somewhere else and I’m not prepared to do that.

I’m reading Stephen King’s book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”. My friend Liz L. lent it to me and I am about ¾ the way completed. It’s a slower read because it is some of Stephen King’s life but also it’s a great book about how to write!

So, I will get back to posting once a week I just don’t know when. I don’t want to create some disappointment in myself by not meeting a deadline today, that I can’t reach later.I’ll continue to concentrate on subject matter I know and enjoy and as Stephen King has said, I’m still trying to find my voice.

 

Just when I think I know something about hockey I look back a month at my playoff predictions and am reminded why I work in the drilling business. We’re down to 4 teams and it’s awesome hockey. Pittsburgh is playing Ottawa and the other division has Anaheim against Nashville. For the sake of hockey,small markets and unconventional hockey hotbeds everywhere I hope to see Nashville in the Stanley Cup Final. It’d be great for hockey everywhere. Enjoy the clip below where Nashville is becoming known as Smashville.

 

The song this week is from Willie Nelson from his new album, Gods Problem Child and its a song about his old buddy Merle Haggard who passed on , April 6 , 2016. The song’s called He Won’t Ever Be Gone.

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The quote this week is from Father Richard Rohr.

“The human ego will always try to name, categorize, fix, control and ensure all its experiences. For the ego everything is a commodity. It lives inside of self-manufactured boundaries instead of inside the boundaries of the Godself. It lives out of its own superior image instead of mirroring the image of God. With the Western isolated self in a state of immense insecurity today, we are flailing about, searching for any solid identity.”

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll do the same again next time I post………

Week 18 & Codependency

 

Some alcoholics die. I didn’t make this up to shock Jack and I don’t like it. But it happens a lot more than people think it does. Alcoholics and drug addicts die every day in every city. It’s sad because I know there is a solution. That’s an actual title of a chapter out of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous; There is a Solution. Jack called me on Tuesday afternoon and asked me if I had time for a coffee. We met at Tim’s in The Core. Jack’s brother just got out of detox on Monday and immediately took up residence in a motel with a few bottles of rye. It’s a story I have heard before or I should say I’ve heard very similar stories before.  If I could save every alcoholic I would make it my full-time commitment to do so. But I can’t. I don’t have that kind of power. I don’t have the numbers but it’s extraordinary when someone is forced into recovery and makes it. Recovery is not necessarily for people who need it, it’s for people who want it. I’ve seen great successes in the rooms of 12 step recovery. People who have had their addictions removed and who have been given a life far beyond anything they had ever imagined for themselves. I’m one of those. Jack was feeling anxious and sick to his stomach because of some things his brother had said to him. Things that were malicious.

The alcoholic or addict will certainly play on your emotions and attempt to make you feel bad, or make you feel that you are in some way responsible for their happiness. They’ll say mean and hurtful things. They’ll yell and scream. “If you had my life you’d drink too” you’ll hear them say. Or they might say “you have no idea what I’m going through” or to a spouse, “if you weren’t such a ______ I wouldn’t have to drink”. Anything to remove the attention off their addiction. I assure you I am not responsible for anyone else’s drinking and there’s a slogan from Al-Anon that says “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it”. Don’t let the alcoholic drag you down, or into their mess. If they can make you feel bad enough about their situation you just might give them a few more dollars, or maybe one last ride to the liquor store, or one last trip to their dealers. “Just one last time Jack, I promise” But be there if they are looking for a hand up. We hope that day comes. Make sure you know the difference between being used and helping, because you can love an alcoholic/addict to death. I’ve seen it. From Wikipedia – “Codependency is a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement”. In A.A. there is a slogan and it goes If you want to drink that’s your business. If you want to stop drinking that’s our business. If you have someone in your life that’s hurting you as a result of their alcoholism or drug addiction seek some help, for yourself, at Al-Anon.

My friend Jack went to an Al-Anon meeting Tuesday night. He’s going to another one on Thursday night. I know he’ll get the support and help he needs. As for Jack’s brother, we have a chair waiting for him if he decides he wants help.

 

In my post of week 15 my hockey predictions at the beginning of round 1 of the NHL playoffs, were stink. Ha-ha. I got 4 out of 8 correct. So now we’re into round 2 without my beloved Calgary Flames or Montreal Canadiens.

Nashville leads STL 3 games to 1 and look to move on

Edmonton leads Anaheim 2-1

Ottawa lead New York 2-1

Pittsburgh leads Washington 2-1

Tonight, will see Pittsburgh, without the league’s best player, Sidney Crosby take on Washington and Anaheim is in Edmonton. Round two has seen some awesome hockey played and the intensity level is way up! Enjoy the games.

 

The Toronto Raptors are in round 2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and they are down 1-0 in the best of 7 series.

 

The song this week is from a favorite of mine and quite unknown. They’ve sometimes been called a movement or an organization. Here is Playing for Change with their version of Imagine

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The quote this week is a paragraph from a small daily devotional.

The heroic first step of the journey is out of, or over the edge of, your boundaries, and it often must be taken before you know that you will be supported. The hero’s journey has been compared to a birth; it starts out warm and snug in a safe place; then comes a signal, growing more insistent, that it is time to leave. To stay beyond your time is to putrefy. Without the blood and searing and pain, there is no new life.

A Joseph Campbell Companion:Reflections on the Art of Living

 

 

Thanks for dropping by, I hope you’ll be back next week…………….

 

Week 16 & A New Pair of Shoes

This week a friend of mine is telling a little of his story . I met Mike R. in 2004 when he came into a meeting in McKenzie Towne. He was new and I liked him from the start. I think of him back then , when he had just moved out of his car, to today where he owns his own place,his own business and is a great father to a beautiful little girl.He’s a solid friend and we have done a lot of things together over the years and we’ve had a lot of laughs. One night Mike took me to see Robin William’s at the Jubilee. Man did we laugh! Mike is an avid fisherman and can be found on the Bow River most days. Mike is also a fishing guide on the Bow River and his website is Bow River Blog and I can assure you he will provide you with a great and fun day or 1/2 day on the river and it’s very affordable and most of all it’s well worth it. The laughter alone , that Mike guarantee’s,is worth it.

 

 

A new pair of shoes

 

Walking the red road into a new way of life.

My shoes took me into deep dark places before I found A.A and recovery. Places where normal people are scared to enter. From crack houses to the local bar, the end was close for me on many occasions. My shoes were worn out and tired, deflated and ready to retire. They had stories to tell, mostly of where not to walk in life’s journey. They were cracked and torn, laces broken, very parallel to my life lived deep in the throes of full blown addiction. I would show up on old friends door steps, only for the door to slam closed in my face and the words uttered sternly “don’t come around here no more, you are NOT welcome”. Shame and humiliation kept me away mostly, but sometimes my shoes would take me back to borrow money to fuel the addiction that burned deep within, only to be rejected again and again! It was lonely in those shoes and I was tired of the places they took me, but for some reason I would always end up in the same situations, baffled as to why I was back at the start once again? An old song comes to mind when I think of those days, “these boots are made for walking… and that’s just what they’ll do, cause one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you”.

Addiction walked all over me, and everything I once loved or held dear to my heart. It crushed all my hopes and all my dreams into a million pieces. When I was young I had aspirations of becoming a hockey player, as well as a professional golf pro. I was good at sports, but really good at these two particularly.  I remember many hockey dads telling my mother, he is a star and he will make the NHL if he keeps playing. My mother could not keep up with the cost of hockey, being a single mother of two, and I hung up the skates around the age of twelve and the golf clubs went to the pawn shop around the age of eighteen. At the ripe old age of nineteen I was a full on pot head, using drugs on a daily basis, and by twenty one I discovered the wonderful drug Cocaine. By the time I was twenty three I had discovered the powerful and highly addictive drug, crack cocaine. Addiction never ran in my family, it galloped.

I can recount at least eight different incidents where I should have died from drug or alcohol related incidents, but for some reason the good Lord never wanted me to go early. One day while at work, I got a call from a friend who wanted me to come over and have lunch and “smoke a joint” before going back to work. My shoes were on and I went running. I ran across the street in front of my work and got ploughed down by a car doing 60 kilometers an hour. My head bounced off his roof and my shoulder went through the front windshield, I still have the scars to prove it! I spent a week in the local hospital but was lucky I had no broken bones and came out with a huge lump on my head, some stitches to my neck and a very badly bruised leg. You think that would have been the “turning point” they say we stood at, but unfortunately it was not.

I carried on for many years later and finally coming to that ultimate place of defeat. I woke up one morning, after parking on crown land near a golf course in the back seat of an old 50.00 beater I bought from a guy at work just before I lost another job. That was where I lived for a month before finally admitting defeat and driving to the local detox center for help. I was coming down off a five day binge and kept driving around the block where the detox center was located. I circled the block at least six times. I had the windows of the car rolled up tight and as I rounded the block one more time, debating to go into the detox center or leave and never go back, I saw a lady and her young son doing some yard work. I made eye contact with the young boy, who was about five years old. As soon as our eyes met I could hear him say, with the windows rolled up tightly, “mommy, mommy that man is in trouble”. I could hear his voice as if he were standing right next to me. I proceeded to park in the detox parking lot and go inside, never to drink or drug another day again. I spent three months in a long term treatment center and never looked back, never putting on the old shoes again. I walked out of that treatment center a changed man and then went straight into Alcoholics Anonymous. It took me approximately three months of hard work with a sponsor, to acquire a new pair of shoes. After landing my first job in many months, I went out and got myself a new pair of Nike’s and a new way of living that works, if you work it.

We still joke around about my first new pair of shoes to this day. That was the first sign I was going to “make it”. I have had many blessings in my life, both the people, as well as the material gifts I have been freely given as a result of those new shoes I slipped on back in 2004. There is hope for guys like me, who went all the way to the bottom, and decided to climb out with the hand of A.A to pull me up. There is a light at the end of that dark tunnel. If you want proof of that, step into the rooms of A.A and take a look around. There you will find many bright lights burning, and you will probably see a few with a new pair of shoes just like mine.

Sincerely,

A grateful member of Alcoholics Anonymous,

Mike Robertson.

 

The song this week is from Glen Campbell. Campbell is presently in a long term care facility in Nashville and in the final throes of Alzheimer disease . He played his last show in November 2012 and his daughter was in the band and by his side every show of his last tour, to care for her father who carried out the tour while early alzheimers was taking hold.

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1967

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2012

 

 

The quote this week is also from Glen Campbell.

“You’ve got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness Just shine your light for everyone to see. And if you try a little kindness, Then you’ll overlook the blindness Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets.”

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll check it out again next week……

Week 15 & Small Victories

 

Last night at a 12 step meeting I mentioned I had a coffee with a young man who was very pleased with some small progress he had made. He was really new to recovery and still in his first 30 days. What was he pleased about? He told me he had gone 1 ½ days without telling one lie. I understand that if you’re reading this and you aren’t an alcoholic or an addict that you might think this an unusual thing to celebrate.  I know that many of you reading this have gone days or weeks or longer without telling a lie. Not so for the alcoholic. You know how to tell when a using alcoholic is lying? Their lips are moving! Back to my new friend and our conversation. I was happy to hear him say that he had managed to do this and I encouraged him, challenged him, to go longer. But what I was happiest about was he was recognizing some change in his actions so soon in his life in recovery. When we are striving for change,we need to take time and look at that change in our lives when it happens. Almost everyone I know strives to have some sort of change in their life. It might be weight loss, saving money or recovery from alcoholism. Recognizing the small victories when they happen, as they happen , is paramount to continued success. For a newly recovering alcoholic to go 1 ½ days without lying is a big accomplishment. My young friend realized this. He wants more of this. He wants to change. He assured me he would quit waiting for the “burning bush” experience and continue to celebrate the small victories. As people in recovery we need to realize that the transformations we obtain are going to come slowly and surely if we continue to work for them.

“They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them”

This is the line that follows the Step 9 Promises on page 83/84 of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

And what about my friend? He’s going to keep coming to meetings, reading the Big Book, working with his sponsor, working the steps and changing his life. Recognizing your change and celebrating it are what keeps us on the path of doing more of what it was that got us to this point. Take time to get acquainted with your new behaviours and appreciate the change as you replace the old behaviours.

 

The roundup last Saturday in DeWinton was very good and the DeWinton AA Group did a great job of hosting so many in their small community. We had some great fellowship with new and old friends and a terrific roast beef dinner. The speakers were very good and my Sponsor, Andy C ,knocked it over the fence. I’ve known Andy for 2 years and he’s been my sponsor only a short while now and it was good for me to hear “his story”.

 

Tonight the second season of the NHL begins and as my friend Kelly says “It’s just like Christmas time”. The second season I refer to is the NHL Playoffs.

Tonight there are 5 games on tap and 3 games tomorrow. The Calgary Flames play tomorrow and face the Anaheim Ducks at the Duck’s barn. I have included the bracket below.

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I love to make predictions so here goes:

Chicago over Nashville
St. Louis over Minnesota
Calgary over Anaheim
Edmonton over San Jose
Montreal over NYC
Boston over Ottawa
Pittsburgh over Columbus
Washington over Toronto

I am excited to be watching some great hockey as the playoffs brings out the best,the toughest and sometimes the nastiest but it’s always entertaining.As for my predictions…..you know what people say about opinions….. enjoy the second season!

Happy Easter to all my friends. Whether you celebrate it or not I do, and I wish you all the best for Easter

I have to give the song of the week to the J. Geils Band out of respect for the death yesterday of John Geils at age 71.

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J. Geils Band ( early 70’s)

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John Geils (2011)

 

 

[He met band mates Danny Klein and “Magic Dick” Salwitz at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he was studying mechanical engineering. They formed the J. Geils Band in 1967 with lead singer Peter Wolf and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd.
The group released a string of albums in the 1970s but would not achieve commercial success until the 1980s, starting with the release of “Love Stinks,” its first platinum-selling record, according to Rolling Stone. Their 12th album, “Freeze-Frame,” featured its popular title track as well as chart-topper “Centerfold,” which spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982.] – CNN, April 12 , 2017
The quote this week :
“Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.”
Thanks for reading. I hope youèll drop by next week………..

Week 14 & Cabo Calm

Spring break has come and gone but with Lori getting a week off from her job as a principal during the break we took full advantage and shuffled off to Mexico. It was a welcomed relief from the long and cold winter we had in Calgary. Cabo San Lucas is where we escaped to and it was a great choice for our destination. We stayed at an all inclusive, The Riu Palace, and booked it through Sunwing vacations. Contrary to a lot of bad press I read and hear about Sunwing, they did a great job. The Riu was very nice, with well decorated rooms and a balcony overlooking the pools and ocean and a large bathroom and perfect shower. The food was plentiful as it usually is at an all inclusive and it was also very well cooked and arranged and my kudo’s to the head chef and the kitchen staff. I may have over indulged in everything ; well not maybe,I did.I would recommend the Riu if you’re looking for a place in Cabo.

Although our main goal was to relax and rest and we did accomplish that ,we did go into Cabo one day for about 6 hours. They’ve done a very good job of keeping “old downtown” intact and quaint for the tourists and they have this fantastic marina just off the downtown with restaurants and shops and activity shops such as scuba, snorkelling and fishing. We had lunch downtown in a small little place that was very old world, cluttered ,welcoming and open air, with good inexpensive food. Afterwards we grabbed a cab for the 10 minute ride back to the Riu. I enjoyed everything we did and didn’t do on our vacation and I enjoyed every day of it. We liked it so much I believe we are going to book again for late October.

 

I was able to get 3 books read while doing nothing all day long but doing it poolside in the 28C sun! The first book I read was Gregg Allman’s autobiography called My Cross to Bear. Allman is totally vulnerable here and holds nothing back although I can tell that some of the verbiage has been tidied up by someone else. This book tells all, over decades and it’s exactly what I would expect Gregg Allman’s story to be like.  downloadThis story is full of sex, drugs, rock & roll and a whole lot of alcohol. Allman does find God at the end ,as I knew he would. And even though he says he’s had a good life, lived it large and wouldn’t trade it for anything ,he was also adamant that he would not do it over again! His music is often labeled Southern Rock and it’s the music I grew up listening to in my teens. The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and all the others were the tunes we listened to. It was our music. Last October Lori and I went to Vegas for the sole purpose of seeing Gregg Allman who was on the bill with ZZ Top but he had to cancel due to illness. He has since cancelled all concerts for 2017.He’s lived hard and today is paying the price for that. The following is a good excerpt from his book on the time of his first date with his wife , Cher.

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An excerpt from My Cross to Bear

The other books I read were Drop the Rock which was about steps 6 & 7 and Spiritual Direction and Meditation by Father Thomas Merton. I was sure I had read Drop the Rock but when people in 12 step meetings would talk about passages from it I would not be able to recall that passage. Well that’s because I had only thought I read it but I hadn’t. But now I have. Did you follow that? Ha-ha. There is a lot of great stuff in Drop the Rock to think about and to put into practise in my life. The other book by Thomas Merton has a strong religious slant to it which is fine by me but might not be for everyone I know who is in 12 step recovery.

 

This Saturday I’m going to a roundup in DeWinton with some friends. I love the small, one day roundups that the smaller towns hold. I’m often asked by people not in recovery what a roundup is so I have included the poster for this one in this post. My sponsor, Andy C is speaking at 1:30 PM

DeWinton-Roundup

The song this week is a Gregg Allman classic called Melissa. This is a beautiful song and even if you aren’t a fan of Gregg Allman, I hope you’ll give the song a listen. The quality of the video isn’t the best but I think this video is a better portrayal of Allman than the newer cleaned up Gregg Allman

 

The quote this week is from Rumi:

Life is a balance between holding on and letting go

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you again next week…….

 

Week 12 , Expectations & Resentments

“Unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments”

It is our job to identify our needs, and then determine a balanced way of getting those needs met. We expect our Higher Power and the Universe – not one person – to be our source.

I believe it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to be able or willing to meet our every request. We are responsible for asking for what we want and need. It’s the other person’s responsibility to freely choose whether to respond to our request. If we try to coerce or force another to be there for us, that’s controlling.
There’s a difference between asking and demanding. We want love that is freely given.
It is unreasonable and unhealthy to expect one person to be the source meeting all our needs. Ultimately, we will become angry and resentful, maybe even punishing, toward that person for not supporting us as we expected.
It is reasonable to have certain and well-defined expectations of our spouse, children, and friends.
If a person cannot or will not be there for us, then we need to take responsibility for ourselves in that relationship. We may need to set a boundary, alter our expectations, or change the limits of the relationship to accommodate that person’s unavailability. We do this for ourselves.
It is reasonable to sprinkle our wants and needs around and to be realistic about how much we ask or expect of any person. We can trust ourselves to know what’s reasonable.
The issue of expectations goes back to knowing that we are responsible for identifying our needs, believing they deserve to get met, and discover an appropriate, satisfactory way to do that in our life.

 

I had a wonderful day last Saturday with my oldest daughter, Emma. When she was 3 years old I took an afternoon off from work to take her to watch her first movie in a movie theatre. The movie was “Beauty and the Beast”. I remember how awe struck she was by the huge screen and booming speakers. That was a very happy dad moment for me and I won’t ever forget it. That was 25 years ago and now Disney has released a new, live-action remake of the original.

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I had initially thought it was just something fun and silly and nostalgic to do with Emma and we could have a few laughs together. Well the movie is very well done and I was a little shocked to discover that I was enjoying the movie. It was great and I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it. Well done Disney. We kicked around the mall for awhile and then went for a nice dinner at Eau Claire. My Saturdays can’t get much better than that.

 

I got home from work Wednesday and bumped into my neighbour, in the back lane. I asked her how she was doing. Her reply was “shitty”. So I stopped to talk to her and found out that her dog, a black Labrador, had died on Saturday. Vader was his name and he and my dog Hoover always had time to bark at each other through the fences and the shrubs and sniff each other’s butts, as dogs do, when they were on the sidewalk together. He was a year younger than Hoover and died from the cancer that was discovered in him only 3 weeks prior. It’s quite sad actually and makes me appreciate the time I have with Hoover, just a little more.

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Hoover The Dog

Here’s a Ted Talk I recently watched that touched a nerve with me. It’s about finding the courage to speak up against prejudice and bigotry. It’s only 4:18 if you want to take the time to watch it.

 

The song this week is Hey Bebe from Rhiannon Giddens new album, Freedom Highway

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The quote this week:

“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.”

M.K. Clinton
Thanks for dropping by…….I appreciate it……